Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Passing of Father Matthew McSorley, O.S.B.

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Father Matthew McSorley, O.S.B., the senior professed monk of our community, died peacefully at the abbey on Thursday, May 24, our patronal feast of Mary Help of Christians. The son of the late John and Mary McSorley, he was born on April 10, 1921 in Richmond, Virginia, and given the name Thomas. Family circumstances brought about moves to Baltimore, Maryland, and Cleveland, Ohio, but he graduated from Benedictine High School in Richmond. After a brief period at the University of Richmond, he transferred to Belmont Abbey College in 1941. He made his novitiate for Belmont Abbey at Saint Vincent Archabbey, professing triennial vows on July 2, 1943. He was solemnly professed in 1946 and was ordained a priest at the cathedral in Richmond, Virginia, on June 4, 1949.

Father Matthew earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Saint Benedict’s College, Atchison, Kansas, in 1945 and his Master’s Degree from Villanova University. He pursued advanced studies at New York University. He taught in the English Department at Belmont Abbey College from 1945 until 1979, earning a reputation as a skilled and demanding teacher. Father Matthew was a mentor to countless students, many of whom attribute their subsequent professional careers and success to his encouragement. He also acquired a deserved reputation as a formidable competitor on the handball and tennis courts.

From 1949 until his retirement from active ministry in the 1990s, Father Matthew served the Catholics in Belmont and, especially, at Saint Helen’s Church in Spencer Mountain. He is remembered with affection and gratitude by the African American communities in both places for his solicitude and his promotion of civil rights and integration. At Belmont’s Martin Luther King Day celebration in 2008, Father Matthew received the Humanitarian Award for his outstanding service.

Father Matthew is survived by the monks of Belmont Abbey, by his sister, Sister Ellen McSorley, R.S.M., and by his niece, Charlene Curry. His last act of service was to donate his body to the medical school at Duke University. A Funeral Mass was celebrated by the monastic community on May 24. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, June 2. In your kindness, we ask that you please offer the customary suffrages for the deceased monks of our Congregation.

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